Language context guides memory content

Viorica Marian*, Margarita Kaushanskaya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The relationship between language and memory was examined by testing accessibility of general knowledge across two languages in bilinguals. Mandarin-English speakers were asked questions such as "name a statue of someone standing with a raised arm while looking into the distance" and were more likely to name the Statue of Liberty when asked in English and the Statue of Mao when asked in Mandarin. Multivalent information (i.e., multiple possible answers to a question) and bivalent information (i.e., two possible answers to a question) were more susceptible to language dependency than univalent information (i.e., one possible answer to a question). Accuracy of retrieval showed language-dependent memory effects in both languages, while speed of retrieval showed language-dependent memory effects only in bilinguals' more proficient language. These findings suggest that memory and language are tightly connected and that linguistic context at the time of learning may become integrated into memory content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-933
Number of pages9
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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